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Gerald Ford undergoes successful angioplasty

Procedure aimed at reducing blockage to heart

Former President Gerald Ford
Former President Ford smiles after a visit by President Bush at Ford's California home on April 23, 2006.

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ROCHESTER, Minnesota (CNN) -- Former President Gerald Ford underwent a successful angioplasty procedure at the Mayo Clinic Thursday to reduce or eliminate blockages in his coronary arteries, his office said Friday.

Angioplasty involves inserting a catheter-guided balloon to expand blocked arteries.

"During the procedure, stents were placed in two of his coronary arteries in order to increase the blood flow through those arteries," according to a written statement released by Ford's office.

A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery during angioplasty. The procedure is often performed on elderly patients and recovery is usually routine.

Ford, 93, received a cardiac pacemaker on Monday at the clinic. The nation's 38th president was admitted to the clinic 10 days ago for "testing and evaluation."

After the procedure Ford returned to his room at Rochester's Mayo Clinic, the statement said, where he is "resting comfortably with his wife Betty and family."

The office said it anticipated no further releases or updates on his condition for several days.

Ford, who's been in frail health in recent years, has been hospitalized four times since December, including late last month, when he was admitted for two days to a hospital in Vail, Colorado, after complaining of shortness of breath.

In January, he spent 11 days in a hospital near his home in Rancho Mirage, California, being treated for pneumonia. In December, he was admitted to the same hospital for unspecified tests.

Ford was hospitalized in 2003 after suffering a dizzy spell while playing golf in 96-degree heat. He also suffered a mild stroke during the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Ford is the only president to have held office without being elected by the voters to the presidency or vice presidency.

He became then-President Richard Nixon's vice president in October 1973 after Spiro Agnew resigned and pleaded no contest to bribery, conspiracy and extortion.

Ford assumed the presidency in August 1974, after the Watergate scandal forced then-President Richard Nixon from office. He then pardoned Nixon. Ford narrowly lost the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter.

CNN's Keith Oppenheim and Dr. Sanjay Gupta contributed to this report.

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